Stop striving so hard to do everything on your own.
I watch you struggle, saddened;
I want you to ask me for help.
I can’t let you succeed at everything
or you will falsely believe you don’t need me.
Stop getting so frustrated, My Child.
Just whisper my name, Jesus
and I’ll fill you with peace and work through your hands.
Search for me in my Word
and I’ll give you wisdom.
Reach out to me when you are empty
and I’ll fill you up to overflowing.
Press in close to me
when everyone else has abandoned you.
I created you to need me. It is not a weakness to acknowledge your need.
You have freedom when you allow me to be your strength.
You have abundant life when you let me in.
When we put our two-year-old to bed at night, it’s always the same routine. Brush teeth, sit on the rocking chair in Daddy’s lap, Momma sits on the rocking footstool with Baby Sister, we all read a book together, say a prayer, then sing songs before getting tucked in. Usually for the singing part of the night, I pass the baby over to Daddy, and I hold the two-year-old while we sing. Daddy and Baby sister stay for one song, then I continue holding my oldest for another song or two, depending on how many she can coax out of me. Twinkle Twinkle, Row Row Row Your Boat, This Little Light of Mine, You are My Sunshine, I’ve Been Working on the Railroad, Frere Jacques, Amazing Grace, Jesus Loves Me, and Jesus Loves the Little Children are our staples. Then, other songs I grew up singing in church will pop into my head and I’ll sing those too. Her laughing eyes look at me, and she asks, “Where did that song come from?” I’ll usually answer her, “From my head, Mademoiselle,” then kiss her goodnight.
Everything can change in just one moment:
A door slams.
That first kiss.
A striking match.
Blowing out a candle.
A baby’s first cry.
Swallowing that first taste of alcohol.
It is finished.
As I sit in the living room with my husband, the World Series is on in the background. I’ve just spent the last ten or fifteen minutes with my head down swiping through Facebook posts and friend suggestions. Not a single word was said between me and my husband. Now as I sit to write my five minutes for today, I realize how easy it is to become distracted and have an entire evening pass away without any substantial conversation occurring between us. Half-listening as we either watch tv or have our heads buried in our phones, neither of us are giving the other our whole, undivided attention. Lord, thank you for not letting this go unchecked or unnoticed.
To capture a moment in time on film
to capture a butterfly or firefly in your hands
to capture someone’s personality in a single frame.
To take captive every thought that intends to destroy us
to allow our hearts to be captured by love
to allow our minds to be captured in wonder.
We have the ability to capture and be captured.
Do we use it for good? Do we allow the Truth to capture our attention?
During Hurricane Matthew, we had my sister’s two daughters for nearly two weeks. My sister had to work at the hospital on lockdown, so she wanted to be sure her girls would be safe away from the storm. I loved having them. How wonderful it was to have two extra sets of hands with my two little girls. While I was feeding my baby and putting her to bed, my nieces would change and take care of my two-year-old. My oldest niece loves to help in the kitchen, so it was wonderful having someone make dessert while I made dinner, or to chop, or to measure. I was so spoiled having their help. When finally the flooding receded, my nieces were able to go back home, it was like I was missing limbs. Who do I get up first? How do I get them both down for naps when they’re melting down? Oh yes, reality. Hi there.
I can remember writing something for my Freshman writing class at UNCW. Actually, I don’t remember what it was about, but I do remember verbatim what my professor wrote underneath my 80%. “Brevity is good, but this is way too short.” I had written down my point. I didn’t feel like there was any need for more fluff. I’m not good at making stuff up as filler. When someone says, “I’ll try to make this brief,” take a breath and get comfy. You know you’re in for a long-winded story.
The very condition of having Friends is that we should want something else besides Friends. Where the truthful answer to the question “Do you see the same truth?” would be “I see nothing and I don’t care about the truth; I only want a Friend,” no Friendship can arise – though Affection of course may. There would be nothing for the Friendship to be about; and Friendship must be about something, even if it were only an enthusiasm for dominoes or white mice. Those who have nothing can share nothing; those who are going nowhere can have no fellow-travellers.
Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.
C.S. LEWIS, The Four Loves
Finding and making new friends as a married woman, and now as a mother, has been a long, and sometimes lonely journey. As a single person, there is no worry about making sure you’re home in time to spend some quality time with your spouse. When presented with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go to Thailand for a few weeks, your answer can be “heck yes!” only after considering whether your finances are limiting. Dinner plans can be made at the last minute and no warning is needed if a friend wants to swing by. There is so much more to consider. Now as a wife and mother, I mostly would look for other wives with children, so we have husbands and kids in common. Are my single friends still there? Are my friends with no kids still there? Of course. It’s just different.
Have you ever had a dream? Something you deep down wanted to do, if money and time were limitless? The older I get, the more I realize that those seeds God planted inside you are meant to grow and meant to bloom. Don’t let what others are doing dissuade you from your purpose. If you have always wanted to open a bakery, but felt discouraged by the bakeries open around you, it’s not that they necessarily bake better than you. It’s just that they actually did the work. Most of us have phenomenal dreams and ideas, but aren’t that stellar about following through to the end. Distractions abound. One of the worst enemies is ourselves. Put your cell phone down and stop scrolling through those Facebook posts. Stop oogling over Pinterest and HGTV. Start your own dream. Do something about it.
We all live our lives with an audience watching, whether we realize it or not. In high school, we’re all so self-conscious, star-struck or intimidated by those considered the “cool kids” that we may not even consider the fact that there is somebody looking up to us. In a society now so saturated with selfies and live videos, it seems like the younger generations thrive on having an audience for very shallow reasons. As Jesus followers, we are called to live our lives differently. It isn’t just for our own benefit, but for others’. Don’t be afraid to be the one who brings a 6-pack of Gatorade to the party. It’s just as cathartic to say “fricking” when you’re mad, and not drop the F-bomb. Be thankful, be generous, defend the underdog, and be kind. Yes, people who aren’t Jesus followers are these adjectives, too. But if you aren’t these things but proclaim to love God, to which audience are you pandering? God or man?